The summer solstice is a time to celebrate the light of consciousness within ourselves and within each and every person, and to reflect upon the potential for consciousness to awaken.
The progress of the sun throughout the year symbolizes the process of attaining enlightenment, and the summer solstice is the final climax of this journey as the day of most light in the year. It symbolizes the ascension found in many great spiritual teachings. At the spring equinox, the resurrection and return of the Son/sun to the Mother Goddess is celebrated. Following this, the summer solstice symbolizes the return/ascension to the Great Father Spirit. It is a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness in the individual, and the return to wholeness in which the Son, Mother Goddess, and Father God become one great unified consciousness—a complete, whole, and powerful light that enlightens the individual.
The Druids, ancient Egyptians, Maya, Romans, and many others have aligned their sacred sites to the summer solstice and conducted ceremonies on this day. At the Great Pyramids of Egypt the summer solstice sun crowns the head of the Sphinx; the Druids celebrated the marriage of heaven and earth and the defeat of the dark god of the year just as the Egyptians celebrated the defeat of the dark god Seth by Horus as the sun; and in Rome, the festival of Vestalia continued a Druid tradition of guarding the sacred fire.
Light is spiritual in its nature, and so the sun and stars have a spiritual significance that has its root in higher dimensions—in many ancient teachings they are described as the source of creation. The summer solstice is therefore a highly spiritual time.
The Spiritual Sun
In sacred texts and traditions around the world there are references to an ancient spiritual veneration of the sun – it can be found in Egypt, Mesoamerica, the beliefs of the Druids, in the esoteric texts of Christianity, the Eleusinian mysteries of ancient Greece, the esoteric schools of Mithraism originating in Persia and found underground in Rome, and in many other places around the world.
This is because the annual journey of the sun is symbolic of the journey of enlightenment. Ancient peoples expressed this wisdom according to their time and culture, yet their sacred teachings and symbols share many similarities because they are based on universal principles common to all life. This is why the Christ, the spiritual Son, or solar hero, was born at the winter solstice, and died and resurrected at the spring equinox in sacred myths throughout the world. This resurrection is followed by the ascension, which is represented by the summer solstice.
The summer solstice is described as the gate of ascent out of this world into the realm of spirit by both Krishna, in the famous text The Bhagavad Gita,
Now I will tell thee, O Arjuna, of the times which, if the mystics go forth, they do not return, and at which they go forth only to return. If knowing the Supreme Spirit the sage goes forth with fire and light, in the daytime, in the fortnight of the waxing moon and in the six months before the Northern summer solstice, he will attain the Supreme. But if he departs in gloom, at night, during the fortnight of the waning moon and in the six months before the Southern solstice [winter solstice], then he reaches but lunar light and he will be born again. These bright and dark paths out of the world have always existed. Whoso takes the former, returns not; he who chooses the latter, returns. The sage who knows this passes beyond all merit that comes from the study of the scriptures, from sacrifice, from austerities and charity, and reaches the Supreme Primeval Abode.
~ Krishna, The Bhagavad Gita
and in the designs of the secret caves of Mithras:
“But this cave was adorned with the signs of the zodiac, Cancer and Capricorn. The summer and winter solstices were chiefly conspicuous, as the gates of souls descending into this life, or passing out of it in their ascent to the Gods; Cancer being the gate of descent, and Capricorn of ascent. These are the two avenues of the immortals passing up and down from earth to heaven, and from heaven to earth.”
~ John P. Lundy, Monumental Christianity
The Trinity and the Feathered Serpent
Throughout ancient teachings there are incredible similarities—a divine Son, who is born to a virgin Mother Goddess and great hidden Father, goes through a series of trials before being betrayed, then resurrecting, and later ascending. The events in the life of this spiritual Son and savior nearly always correspond to the solar year and other astrological events.
These famous trinities of Father, Mother, and Son actually symbolize the fundamental energies and forces that exist within creation—found in atoms, the basic building blocks of all matter, as the three forces of positive, negative, and neutral. Paracelsus, the great alchemist of the Renaissance, saw the cosmos as being fashioned from three spiritual substances or principles called a tria prima, which the alchemical substances of salt, sulfur, and mercury signified—salt as substance and solidity, mercury as that which is transformative and fusible, and sulfur as binding these two.
As what is above relates to what is below, these three primary forces of the universe are also central to the awakening of consciousness and why the stories of Mother Goddess, Great Father, and Divine Son also contained messages about the process of an individual reaching enlightenment. The Trinity of Mother, Father, and Son exist not only as universal forces, but also as higher parts of each individual’s consciousness that exist in more spiritual dimensions and which someone reunites with on the path of the spiritual sun.
Full self-realization is a return to the source of creation, the final ring of the Absolute, where all is one. To do that the different parts of someone’s Being that were divided as they came into creation reunite to form one whole, as it is not possible to enter the innermost ring of the Absolute divided; we must return as one, just as we did when we left, but with self-consciousness from the experience of duality in the world of matter. When the three forces of creation—Father, Mother, and Son—are one and have returned to the divine source, a person has gone through the process of creation in reverse and re-absorbed the principles of life and divinity.
“It is by love, that the Heavenly Father and the Earthly Mother and the Son of Man become one. For the spirit of the Son of Man was created from the spirit of the Heavenly Father, and his body from the body of the Earthly Mother. Become, therefore, perfect as the spirit of your Heavenly Father and the body of your Earthly Mother are perfect.”
~ Jesus in the Essene Gospel of Peace, translated by Edmond Bordeaux Szekely
This fusion of Mother, Father, and Son has been symbolized as the feathered serpent—and can be found as the Maya and Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, the Persian and Roman god Mithras, and prolifically throughout Egypt. The gods Quetzalcoatl, Mithras, and Horus are the Son; the serpent is a symbol of the Mother; and the feathers symbolic of the Father—it is from the union of Father, Mother, and Son that Quetzalcoatl/Mithras/Horus becomes the feathered serpent.
The symbol of the feathered serpent in different cultures. From left to right—Mithras is depicted in the center of the zodiac with the sun atop his head, a serpent wrapped around his body, and wings on his back; Quetzalcoatl looks out from within a serpent that is covered in feathers; and the sun god in Egypt has the symbol of the sun atop his head and holds out the wings of a feathered serpent. (From left to right—1914 illustration of a 1st century AD Roman white marble relief from the Estense Museum in Modena, Italy; photo of Quetzalcoatl CC BY 3.0 by Sailko; Egyptian illustration of “the 11th hour” from a tomb in the Valley of the Kings, photo CC BY-SA 3.0 by Hajor, edited.)
The serpent is a symbol of the earth (which is substance), and the earthly Mother, as it is an animal that is at all times in contact with the earth. The feathers are those of an eagle, which is a symbol of the heavens (which is spirit) and the heavenly Father, as the eagle is an animal that flies and lives above all others and is thus associated with higher realms. The Son, symbolized by Jesus, Quetzalcoatl, Mithras, etc., is the force that unites the earthly human with its higher, heavenly Being.
In Persia the god Mithras was known as “the Mediator,” as the Son is the conciliatory force (who, on the path of the spiritual sun, reunites/reconciles us with divinity). The Son is the miraculous reconciliatory aspect of each person’s Being that is both personal and cosmic—the light of the spirit manifest in substance that acts within to unite and integrate the earthly human with heavenly divinity, joining the serpent with the feathers so it can fly. This is why the Son has been referred to as the light and savior of humanity in so many sacred teachings.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” 2
~ 1 John 4:7-9
Creation in Reverse
Enlightenment is the process of creation in reverse, as it is the return of the individual to the divine source we were created from. In creation myths, a divine androgynous being firstly emerges from the great unmanifest and unknowable source. This being divides into the duality of masculine and feminine, of Father and Mother, in order to create and give birth to a Son, who then makes the rest of creation. These myths not only describe the creation of the universe, but because the process of creation is the same on a macrocosmic and microcosmic level, and a cosmic and personal level, they also describe the creation of our own unique Being which emerged from the source of creation and divided into its various parts as it came into the dimensions of life.
To follow this process in reverse a person firstly fuses with the Son of their higher Being (symbolized at the winter solstice), then the Son returns to and fuses with the Mother (symbolized at the spring equinox, and as the Son being swallowed by the serpent), then the Son-Mother returns to and fuses with the Father (symbolized at the summer solstice, and as the serpent being swallowed by the eagle). The feathered serpent—the three forces of creation, as Mother, Father, and Son—a unified self-realized androgynous being, which is now whole, then returns on the wings of spirit from the earth to the spiritual realm, the divine source of creation called the Absolute.
“I am the one who is with you always. I am the Father, I am the Mother, I am the Son. I am the undefiled and incorruptible one.”
~ Jesus in the Apocryphon of John from the Nag Hammadi Library
“It is imperative that not a single thought remain and that the tiniest speck of dust be transformed. There must be no perceived distinction of self and other; enmity and kindness must be seen as one; far and near, intimate and distant must be united as one body; birds and beasts, insects and fish are all of the same ch’i. One’s lofty tao and weighty te are equal to heaven’s. Following this, in the midst of obscurity and utter silence, the blessing is received and the ‘mysterious pearl’ presented in all its splendour and brilliance, more precious than words can tell. When the ‘pearl’ is consumed, the body sprouts feathered wings, and ‘disappearing from Mount Wu-I’ flies to the paradise of the immortals.”
~ True Transmission of the Golden Elixir by Sun Ju-chung, translated by Douglas Wile
The Return to the Source of Creation
This fusion of consciousness with the great, ineffable source of creation can be found symbolized at the Great Pyramids of Egypt at the summer solstice.
An artist’s depiction of the sun setting between the two Great Pyramids and crowning the Sphinx on the summer solstice.
On the summer solstice, the sun sets between the second largest of the pyramids and the Great Pyramid. As it does, it creates the Egyptian hieroglyph for the first act of creation—the two pyramids act as the mounds either side of the sun as it rose for the first time. However, in this case the sun is setting not rising, indicating that this is a process of creation, but in reverse. Instead it depicts the sun going back to the source of creation.
In the esoteric Christian text Pistis Sophia, Jesus teaches his disciples that there are twenty-four mysteries, and that the first mystery is also the last mystery—that is, from where everything came, is also where it returns, just as the sun returns to its point of origin each day after twenty-four hours, and also every year.
“And Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I am come forth out of that First Mystery, which is the last mystery, that is the four-and-twentieth mystery.’ And his disciples have not known nor understood that anything existeth within that mystery; but they thought of that mystery, that it is the head of the universe and the head of all existence; and they thought it is the completion of all completions…”14
~ Pistis Sophia, translated by G.R.S. Mead
This completion of all completions applies not just to everything that exists, but also to the process of awakening consciousness.
Copyright © Mark & Angela Pritchard 2013
This is about 1/5 of the chapter on the spiritual meaning of the autumn equinox. Keep reading in the book The Path of the Spiritual Sun.